“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.”
Jonah 3:1 NIV
When John and Charles Wesley met and heard General James Oglethorpe, founder and governor of Georgia, speak about life in America with the natives and pioneers, they decided to go and bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the new land.
The result: Charles, who went as the governor’s secretary, fell ill. John, who went to preach, fared even worse. The pioneers did not like his preaching or mannerisms, and the natives were unconvinced.
When the brothers returned to England, they should have been crushed by the overwhelming, highly publicized failure. Instead, it was apparent to all who knew them that their vision burned brighter than ever, though narrowed and sharpened by the fire they had endured.
The God of the second chance turned the Wesleys’ attention on England, a debased, degenerated country. At that time every sixth house in London was a saloon. Drunkenness, child abandonment, bands of hooligans and crime were everywhere. The church had grown into a cold social club with foxhunting parsons — the upper classes laughed at it and the lower classes ignored it as irrelevant. Once again, the Wesley brothers seemed destined for failure. Their fiery preaching style was greeted with boos and jeers. They were pelted with stones, mud and rotten eggs; however, something was different.
John literally leapt into the saddle, traveling throughout England, preaching up to five sermons a day for over fifty years. His message to the rich and poor was the same: “Repent and be saved!” He made faith in Christ a living reality. The nation began to be stirred. One of their converts, Robert Raikes, formed the first Sunday School, a movement that spread throughout the country and abroad. Society began to see the need to help abandoned children, the needy, the illiterate and those in prison.
Not only did the Gospel burn like wildfire throughout England, but also the message of faith sparked a flame that encircled the globe. Much of what is being done today is a result of the fact that John and Charles Wesley, like Jonah of old, heard the Word of the Lord when it came the second time.